The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas could see a temporary pause if US negotiators succeed in brokering a deal for the release of dozens of hostages captured during the October 7 attack.
According to two senior US administration officials, who chose to remain anonymous, the proposed deal involves a two-phase process.
During the initial phase, Hamas would release women, the elderly, and wounded captives, leading to a temporary cessation of hostilities.
This pause would allow both Israel and Hamas to negotiate the second phase, focusing on the release of Israeli soldiers and civilian men. The overall agreement is expected to result in the liberation of over 100 captives.
Additionally, the emerging deal outlines provisions for increased humanitarian aid to Gaza, aiming to alleviate the reported “huge suffering” among residents due to food shortages and limited access to basic necessities, as indicated by the UN’s agency for Palestine.
Since October 7, more than 1.9 million Gazans have been displaced, with a large tent “city” established in Rafah, south of the strip. The dire situation in Gaza includes restrictions on the entry of food, medical supplies, and sanitary products.
While this proposed agreement may not bring a definitive end to the conflict, US officials express hope that it could offer a sustainable resolution to the ongoing hostilities.
US President Joe Biden discussed the situation with Qatar’s leader, emphasizing the centrality of a hostage deal to establish a prolonged humanitarian pause in the fighting.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains committed to dismantling Hamas and has pledged to continue military operations towards that objective. In November, a week-long truce resulted in the exchange of approximately 100 hostages between the two sides.
However, around 130 individuals remain captive, with some confirmed dead since the truce expired. Hamas has previously stated its willingness to release more captives in exchange for an end to the conflict and the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners.